Deb Joanne Finds Love in an Elevator

Thanks to everyone who entered our Query Critique Contest! The contest is now over, but stay tuned each day this week to see who our winners are (remember-we said we were giving away 5 critiques!). Today`s winner is Kerry Ann! Congratulations, Kerry Ann! We`ll get in touch with you soon, but in the interim, get polishing that query!


Ever since I thought of the name for this post (which was actually before I wrote it), I’ve been humming Love in an Elevator, so then of course, I had to go out and find the video so I could share it with you.

You’re welcome. Except for the dancing jiggly-girls-for that, I apologize. Oy.

Okay, we go that out of the way, so down to business: Elevator Pitches. Not sure what an elevator pitch is? Here is a great video that will tell you. Now, this is specific to pitching a business to an investor, but I think you will see that this aligns VERY WELL with how an author should pitch an agent/editor at a conference*.

Makes sense, right? You need to have a great one-liner about your book, why you’re the person to write it and how it’s going to fit into the marketplace (i.e. why it will sell).

BUT wait. There’s more! Pitches aren’t just great for when you’re looking to place your book. Elevator pitches are great for figuring out your book as you’re writing it (especially if you’re a pantser like me who has no idea what will happen in the book until you write it). What is your book about? If you can’t boil your book down into a line or two, maybe you’re looking at it from the wrong angle or it needs a bit more to it to make it about something that you can relay in a few words.

Here one example:

SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE: A sassy tween gets hit by lightning at a wedding and can suddenly hear ghosts, including her meddling grandmother who wants help finding the girl’s father a new wife.

And here are some I ripped off borrowed from IMDB:

TITANIC: A boy and a girl from differing social backgrounds meet during the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic.

SIXTEEN CANDLES: A young girl’s “sweet sixteenth” birthday becomes anything but special as she suffers from every embarrassment possible. (Weird that this doesn’t even mention Jake Ryan? Because OMG-Jake Ryan. Amiright?)

DIE HARD: New York cop John McClane gives terrorists a dose of their own medicine as they hold hostages in an LA office building.

BOWFINGER: When a desperate movie producer fails to get a major star for his bargain basement film, he decides to shoot the film secretly around him. (Have you seen this? This is one of my favorite comedies. KeepItTogether!)

See what I mean? And one thing that this illustrates very clearly, is that you can’t fit in all the little nuances that make your book really unique or special. You just can’t. And I think that’s what trips people up. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an intriguing pitch. Remember, agents and editors hear pitches all the time, so they don’t want flowers and jazz-hands – they want the core of what your story is about. And you should know what that is and be able to tell them.

And as I get closer to publication, I’m finding the elevator pitch is absolutely invaluable when I run into friends and family who say, “I heard your book is coming out soon. What’s it about?”

I used to mumble and stutter something like, “It’s about this girl, Lilah. And she gets hit by lightning at her mom’s wedding. Second wedding, of course! And she can hear ghosts after that, like her grandmother, Dora, who died a few years before. And then she hears the ghost of the father of the boy she has a crush on and there’s this scene where they’re in a cafe and she talks about his underwear…” Oy. Painful, right? So now I employ my elevator pitch, or even just, “It’s about a girl who gets hit by lightning and can suddenly hear ghosts.” Because much more than that makes peoples’ eyes glaze over and I want to make sure they’re still paying attention when I say, “And it’s available for pre-order!”

So now you – let’s hear your elevator pitch: for your finished book, your work in progress, whatever!


*Please, please, please never employ your elevator pitch in the bathroom at a conference. Although you may think of an editor or an agent as royalty, no one wants to get pitched while they’re on the throne. Seriously—don’t do this.

23 Replies to “Deb Joanne Finds Love in an Elevator”

  1. Oh, that takes me back, Joanne… Er, ’nuff said.

    Okay–pitches! Yes, this week will be another goodie. The subject is such an important one for all of us. Like the dreaded synopsis, forming pitches can have that make-or-break feel to it (no pressure!) but I think it’s important to remind ourselves that pitches can evolve as we write and as we talk to people about the book. And relatives are WONDERFUL people to test pitches on. Just not, you know, in the loo.

    1. It’s going to be another fun week, indeed! Pitches are so important and like I said, I’m finding them to be important outside the industry, too, when trying to tell people about my book. And Jake Ryan? Rowr.

  2. LOL! Yeah, I think the bathroom pitch is an automatic rejection from most agents and editors.

    Huh, I’ll see if I can come up with an elevator pitch by Friday… 😉

  3. Oh pitches, (have to think about this one).

    As the Mother of the author of Small, Medium at Large, my pitch (yes I know girls be good your the Mother not a writer).

    When I am asked about the book (or better yet I am the person that is telling the world about the book)I just say it is fantastic it is about a girl who gets hit by lighting and than has to listen to her Dead Grandmother talk to her (oy let me tell you ghost or alive, I had a Grandmother who you listened to or oy vey watch out)and etc. etc. etc.

    So now I have to steal a one liner this is not easy for your Mother J a one liner from me, not going to work, (that’s why you are the writer and not me).

    Seriously Debs I can’t wait to see the rest of the week one liners, maybe I will pick up a few pointers along the way.

    Have a good week and keep those thoughts coming on paper for the next book and the next and the next.

    See you all next week.

  4. A woman who has withdrawn from the world so much that her only real connection is with her houseplants is thrown into the chaotic life of a man whose wife left with another man, leaving behind a positive pregnancy test stick. Can they help each other out of their private hells and find true love?

  5. Great advice! It takes me FOREVER to get down my elevator pitch… honestly still not sure I have it down for Populazzi, though I’m closer. But yes, it ‘s vital to grab people’s interest with something quick and hook-y.

    LOVE me some Bowfinger. Steve Martin can do no wrong. You’ve seen his cameo in The Muppet Movie, yes?

    1. Hi Elise-so glad my post resonated with you. And yeah, isn’t Bowfinger brilliant? I never tire of it. I think it’s about time for another watch…

  6. I’m glad you guys are doing this. It really pushes me along in my planning. With that said, I don’t have a good one liner but I’ll be working on that this week.

    Thanks for the nudge!

    1. You’re welcome, Missy. Even just writing the post helped me work my pitch out in my head (and made me think about it for other projects I’m working on, too). Thanks for popping by!

Comments are closed.